Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004 | 9:46 a.m.
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An Open Letter About Grieving
Yesterday I inadvertantly directed a lot of traffic to this journal by leaving a comment in someone else's diary. I feel a little weird about it, because I was trying to reach out to someone who is in a really crappy funk right now, and I'm afraid it may have sounded like I was trying to "one up" her by saying that I've been dealing with a really crappy funk this year too, even if it has a different cause. Specifically, because this woman has a child, and I mentioned that the source of my funk is the loss of my child, I'm afraid it might have sounded like, "Hey, buck up, at least you've still got your kid!"
This is a sentiment I have not experienced -- jealousy over the life of another mother's child -- but I know it is a common one from my experience with the grieving parent community. I usually try to bend over backwards to assure people that it's okay for them to talk about their children, and more importantly, that it's okay for them to be angry with them and speak about that anger. You know, let them know that I'm not sitting next to them, seething over their continued parenthood because I lost a child. I feel good about that -- grateful, actually, because I can imagine how feeling that way further isolates parents who are already isolated by the event of losing a child, an event that is only in the last 50 years or so considered "unusual."
It's important to me also to acknowledge that while Jasmine's death is the pinnacle of depth of feeling this year for me, there have been other things that have happened that have made me deeply sad, angry or despairing. And that having children doesn't keep those particular emotional wolves from the door, which is the reality that the person writing in that journal was facing. Of course it doesn't.
I also hear from a lot of people who have experienced grief, but it was for a pet, or a miscarriage, or another family member or friend. Often people hasten to say it's not the same, and it's not, but what always makes me feel sad is that these people often downplay their own grief in order to try to relate to mine. And maybe that kind of manuevering is necessary with some people, but not with me. I appreciate that different relationships evoke different kinds of grief, but it's all grief, and it's all emotionally draining and sometimes confusing and conflicting. And I so appreciate when people reach out from that place.
I guess what I'm saying is that I want to be approachable about my grieving and the resulting roller coaster of feelings I've been riding this year. I don't want people to have to apologize when they write to me, or fear that I may be offended that their child is alive. I don't blame anyone else for Jasmine's death, not even God. I don't think God works that way -- it's not about punishment and reward. Not for me anyway. And maybe that's a whole different post.
Anyway, if ever you're reading along and feel like sharing, please do. Please don't censor yourself. Your stories are beautiful and healing and I love reading them. Your pain may be just as valid and deep as mine, regardless of the relationship you lost. Honor that, even if only within yourself.
Ultimately, I want this journal -- I want my life to be about reaching out, about finding places of connection, and not just in the realm of grieving. I don't want it to be about comparison and feelings of "lesser than". I want my life and my "Self" to be about openness and support. I want to be able to stand in the strength of me (which means I have to fully find it and embody it) and then help other people learn how to do the same. Imagine what a world this would be if everyone could stand in their strength, shine their light, having faced and embraced their shadow. How beautiful and bright. How whole.
I know I may not always hit the mark, as with my comment in the journal -- my life is still in progress and I'm still working on this AND I'm human -- but that is my goal. I don't want much, do I?
Recent Entries ...
Go Here - Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2006
Short, But Sad Good-bye - Sunday, Oct. 16, 2005
Jasmine's Story ... Our Story - Friday, Sept. 30, 2005
Ache - Thursday, Sept. 29, 2005
Twists & Turns - Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2005
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